Fashion conscious urbanites hand British brand Barbour a profit hike

 

Before the Kate Middleton effect had retailers chasing their tale to cater to the middle market, another Kate had the ability to send shoppers stampeding. A certain Miss Moss must in part take credit for the recent revival of British brand Barbour after the supermodel wore one of the brand's signature jackets to Glastonbury in 2009. 

Though sales have been strong for years both at home and internationally, the family owned company today posted an operating profit of £17million, an increase of over £5million on 2010's figures, thanks in part to fashion conscious urbanites.

Established in South Shields in 1894 by a Scot John Barbour, the company began life as a shop selling waterproof oilskin outerwear for the local fishermen, sailors and dockyard workers as well as other work wear. Over a hundred years later the company is still based in the north east of England, and is now overseen by the fifth generation. Originally a brand which catered to more rural pursuits such as hunting, fishing and farming, Barbour provided oilskins to the military in both world wars, while members of the submariner service wore the brand's waterproof jackets and trousers in ww2.

In 1957, Barbour went from retailer to manufacturer as production moved in-house to a factory on the outskirts of South Shields. In 1974 Barbour received its first royal warrant - to provide clothing for the Duke of Edinburgh, which was followed in 1982 and 1987 with warrants for The Queen and Prince of Wales respectively. For many years the brand focussed on outerwear, specifically waxed jackets and quilted jackets lined in the signature tartan, and happily catered to the country set.

Until June 2009 that is, Kate Moss and Alexa Chung were snapped at Glastonbury sporting Barbours. Since then, city-dwellers have been drawn to the aristocratic heritage connotations of the brand, whether ironically or aspirationally.

In east London, creative types wear wax jackets with their turned up jeans and brogues, while City boys favour quilted styles over their suits.

Since 2009, the 'Hackney Farmer' look has grown exponentially, and as today's profits suggest, despite plenty of high-street 'homages', customers still want to buy an authentic slice of country style.  “Interestingly, given its status as a countryside must-have, Barbour is most popular in our city branches,” says Matt McCormack, director of buying, Fashion at John Lewis.

“Barbour is a strong selling brand,” says McCormack. “It has long been popular with our customers in menswear, womenswear and childrenswear. However it was in early 2011 that sales really took off for us, as customers began to view Barbour jackets not just as a practical purchase but also a stylish one.”

Barbour has branched further into the field of fashion with an annual product range numbering 2000, and collaborations with Liberty and William Morris on alternative linings as well as British designers Paul Smith and, Kate Middleton favourite, Alice Temperley.

The Barbours, who awarded themselves a £10million dividend in 2011, may want to keep some of those funds in a safe place though as the brand has experienced saturation point before. In 1981 Princess  Diana caused sales to soar, before the Sloane ranger's reign of terror sent them plummeting.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Mortgage Advisor - OTE £95,000

£40000 - £95000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

competitive: SThree: Are you passionate about sales?Do you have a keen interes...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Adviser - OTE £30,000

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy